Top 10 Songs By The Shadows

The Shadows Songs

Feature Photo: Harry Pot / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The top 10 songs by The Shadows come from a group that was previously known as the Drifters. This British-based group excelled as Cliff Richard’s backing band, as well as instrumental rock musicians that dominated the British music charts shortly after it was founded as a band in 1958. Before the Beatles, the Shadows was the “it” act to follow. For over six decades, the Shadows produced a number of hits that would keep the band in the spotlight as one of the UK’s most entertaining musical acts in history. The versatility of music the Shadows covered spanned between ballads, jazz, pop, and various rock sounds kept this band at the top of the music industry while it was experiencing the trend of beat-band music across the nation.

Cliff Richard and the Shadows

From 1958 until 1968, the Shadows served as the backing band to Cliff Richard. At first, the group was founded by Norman Mitham, Ken Pavey, Ian Samwell, Terry Smart, Harry Webb, and Bruce Welch. Harry Webb was the original name of Cliff Richard before it was changed shortly after he joined the band as its lead singer. Shortly after this, Jet Harris signed up as the band’s bass guitarist. As for the band’s name the Drifters, this was changed after legal action was threatened against the group by the owner of the popular American R&B group, The Drifters.

As a result, the Drifters adopted the name The Four Jets at the same time the group released “Jet Black” as its second single. However, this was a name the men in the lineup didn’t want to stick with. The Shadows was suggested by Harris since the band was once identified as Cliff Richard and the Shadows, a mistake that was made when it released “Move It” as its debut single. However, the name stuck as the Shadows continued to serve as Cliff Richard’s backup band until he left the lineup in 1968.

This was the team that recorded and released thirty-four hit singles and was featured at one point on Jack Good’s television series, Oh Boy!, the UK’s first all-music show that featured teenagers as the starring lineup. Upon Norrie Paramor and EMI Group Limited’s request, the hunt was on for a better guitarist who specialized in skiffle-style music. Originally, Johnny Foster was sent to find Tony Sheridan but found Hank Marvin instead when he visited a popular coffee bar known for musical talents performing there.

Marvin’s ability with the guitar, plus a resemblance to Buddy Holly thanks to the glasses he wore at the time, was enough for Foster to present Marvin to Paramor. Paramor was the producer and manager of Cliff Richard and the Shadows when this group started off as one entity. When the two were split to follow musical directions of their own, he continued to play an instrumental role in their careers until the day of his death on September 9, 1979.

In addition to winning over fans on the music charts, Cliff Richard and the Shadows appeared in a variety of motion pictures that include Finders Keepers, Summer Holiday, The Young Ones, Thunderbirds Are GO, and Wonderful Life. As for Rhythm ‘n Greens, this was a project that led the Shadows to record and release an EP and music book of this short B-rated film in 1964.

The Shadows also appeared in Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, a 1964 pantomime production that was performed at the London Palladium. Cliff Richard performed as the genie, Aladdin, while the Shadows performed as Noshee, Poshee, Washie, and Wishie. In 1966, the group performed another pantomime, this time for Cinderella. Between the film and stage productionsCliff Richard and the Shadows were involved in, this not only boosted their popularity with the fans but their musical and songwriting talents as well.

After performing a concert at the London Palladium in October 1968, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch agreed it was time to take a break. Between the two, Welch left first before Marvin officially disbanded the Shadows before the end of the year. This officially put an end to Cliff Richards and the Shadows as a name, despite the fact over the course of time they’d perform with each other in a string of concerts and recordings.

The Shadows

The Shadows were considered the pioneers of instrumental rock and became the first backing band to achieve stardom, a feat that seemed unheard at the time. Even while with Cliff Richard, the Shadows brought forth a single of its own in 1960. “Apache” was an instrumental rock number written by Jerry Lordan. This was the first number-one hit for the group but by no means the last. “Kon Tiki” and “Wonderful Land” joined the ranks as Lordan classics that put the Shadows on the map as so much more than Cliff Richard’s band.

Going into 1961, the Shadows’ drummer at the time, Tony Meehan, shifted his career path to become a music producer for Decca Records. Replacing him was Brian Bennett, who had been a mainstay for the Shadows going into the twenty-first century. In 1962, the bass guitarist responsible for suggesting the Shadows decided it was his time to opt-out. Replacing Terence “Jet” Harris was Brian “Licorice” Locking. It would be this lineup that would release two hit singles, “Dance On!” and “Foot Tapper.” However, Locking’s run with the Shadows was short-lived as he left to further pursue his spiritual path as a Jehovah’s Witness.

From 1960 to 1963, the Shadows dominated the Official UK Singles Chart with thirteen big hits. At the same time, former bandmates who left the Shadows were enjoying an outstanding run as hit makers themselves as Harris teamed up with Tony Meehan while at Decca Records. While on tour, the Shadows met and recruited John Rostill who would result in a wider range of musical styles. However, this also marked a slowdown of high-ranking hits on the music charts as the trends of the music industry began to shift.

Going into 1965, the Shadows began to release singles that would have the A-side feature vocalists while the B-side offered an instrumental version of the same song. These include “Don’t Make My Baby Blue,” “I Met a Girl,” “Mary Ann,” and “The Dreams I Dream.” These four singles became hits in the UK while at the same time still bringing forth instrumental hits such as “A Place in the Sun,” “Genie with the Light Brown Lamp,” “Maroc 7,” “Stingray,” and “The War Lord.”

The Shadows, Part II

After the Shadows opted to disband in 1968, the lineup resurfaced again in 1970, starting with BBC’s Pop Go The Sixties. “Apache” was performed on an episode, as well as Cliff Richard’s “Bachelor Boy.” This was broadcast in the UK, as well as across Europe, on December 31, 1969. 1970 officially began with a reconstruction of the Shadows with Hank Marvin at the helm.

The new lineup started as resident guests who appeared on the debut of Cliff Richard’s BBC series, It’s Cliff Richard! Five years later, the Shadows were chosen by BBC’s Bill Cotton to compete in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest. Marvin and his bandmates were recruited to perform the Song of Europe, a process that included six songs that were recorded, and then viewed on a weekly television show called It’s Lulu. The host of the show was former Eurovision star Lulu Kennedy-Carins, whose “Boom Bang-a-Gang” earned the UK the win as best song in 1969.

Among the six songs the Shadows performed for the show, the public favorite was “Let Me Be the One.” This was a Paul Curtis composition that was submitted to the Eurovision final that was held in Stockholm, Sweden. This song came in second place while the Dutch’s “Ding-A-Dong” from Teach-In earned the win for 1975. In 1978, the Shadows reunited with Cliff Richard for two concert performances that were held at the London Palladium.

Highlights from this concert, as well as four songs performed by the Shadows, were recorded and released on the 1979 album Thank You Very Much. On the back of this record was an instrumental version of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” a song that was first made popular in 1978 by the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Evita. This song would be the first time the Shadows experienced a top-ten hit since 1968. Before 1979 was over, the Shadows experienced another top-ten hit with the instrumental version of “Cavatina.” This came from the group’s twelfth studio album, String of Hits.

The Shadows, Part III

After recording music with EMI for over twenty years, the Shadows left this company and signed up with Polydor Records. With a contract engineered to span ten years, the first album the group released with the new label was Change of Address. This was released in 1980 and featured a musical shift that favored electronic-based keyboards and synthesizers. It drowned out Bruce Welch’s musical contribution as a result. In 1983, the Shadows celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with the release of a double album titled Shadows Silver Album.

It featured a mix of previously released musical content with newly recorded tracks. This was followed by another reunion the Shadows had with Cliff Richard as they teamed up to perform a series of celebratory concerts at Birmingham NEC and Wembley Arena. In 1989, they reunited again, this time at Wembley Stadium, to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary as recording artists. In 1990, another concert by Cliff Richard and the Shadows was held in a fundraising effort on behalf of disabled children and young musicians.

When the Shadows embarked on a farewell tour in 2004, the lineup was Brian Bennett, Hank Marvin, and Bruce Welch. The tour included “Life Story,” a recording that was featured along with the 1980s rerecordings of the collection of hits the group released between the 1960s and the 1970s. Accompanying the core members of the group during the tour was Mark Griffiths on bass and Cliff Hall on keyboards.

Due to the popularity of this farewell tour, the men performed across Europe in 2005 but without Hall. Taking his place on the keyboards was the son of Brian Bennett, Warren. It was also during this time the core lineup of the Shadows as Officers were appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. While Bennett and Welch accepted, Marvin declined. Off and on, going into 2022, the current lineup of the Shadows continues to perform music as Brian Bennett and Welch most recently appeared as guests for a Cliff Richard Christmas special on the UK-based BBC2.

Legacies

As a band, the Shadows served as a major influence on an audience that featured upcoming recording artists who were inspired by a team of musicians who consistently remained in the spotlight as shining stars. In 1996, a tribute album paying homage to the group featured a series of recording artists such as Randy Bachman, Ritchie Blackmore, Peter Frampton, and Neil Young. In addition to gracing the world with some of the best music during the span of its career, the Shadows also became famous for how the men performed on stage. The bandmates used their bodies and guitars to dance to the music in the form of a walk. This became a popular move by several other groups in their performances. The infamous “walk” the Shadows were known for began after Bruce Welch made an observation in 1958 about how well an all-black American band known as the Treniers moved around in unison.

As for the Shadows’ discography, the group recorded and released twenty-one studio albums and five albums between 1961 and 2018. It also has twenty-five EPs to its credit, as well as thirty-five compilation albums. There were also sixty-seven singles that were released that had some as instrumental classics and some as vocalized favorites. The Shadows are among the most successful acts to appear on the UK Singles Chart when it comes to producing a string of hits as a recording artist. 1979’s album, String of Hits, was the group’s best-selling album as it became certified platinum with the British Phonographic Industry, as well as earning gold certifications in Finland and Italy. After this, the group would have two more studio albums that would become certified platinum by the BPI. 1987’s Simply Shadows and 1990’s Reflection demonstrated even after more than twenty-five years in the business the Shadows still had what it took to bring forth hit music at a world-class level.

Top 10 Songs by The Shadows

#10 – Dance On!

“Dance On!” was an instrumental single the Shadows released in 1962 and it became a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart and the Irish Singles Chart. Originally, “Dance On!” was penned and performed by a pop vocal group known as the Avons. It was released alongside “All Day,” a song written by Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch. The infectious beat the Shadows performed in “Dance On!” was the key to its appeal to a fan base who couldn’t get enough of the added drama the Shadows were known for pouring into so many of the group’s most popular songs.

Instead of the vocals telling a song’s story, the talent pool of Marvin, Welch, and Brian Bennett used their guitars and drums to do all the work. What’s great about good instrumental rock performed by great musicians is the freedom it gives listeners to interpret the song however they see fit. “Dance On!” was loaded with energy, making it too tempting to pass up to get up and move with the music.

#9 – The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt

“The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt” was an instrumental single released in 1964 by the Shadows. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number five. The entire roster of the Shadows at the time played a hand in the songwriting behind an imaginary character that was invented by Richard O’Sullivan. He was an actor who was a friend of the Shadows.

The title of this song came about after the group watched The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond. What made this song stand out was how different it sounded compared to the rest of the musical material previously released by the Shadows. It was bluesy and earthy at the same time but still dramatic thanks to the guitars and the drums that once again added so much drama that made an ordinary song become extraordinary.

#8 – Foot Tapper

“Foot Tapper” was an instrumental that topped the UK Singles Chart after it was released by the Shadows as a single in 1963. The inspiration behind this song came to Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch after a filmmaker named Jacques Tati made a request for them to write a song for his next movie. This 1961 visit resulted in a song that was intended for Playtime, but Tati met with funding issues that prevented the movie from appearing until 1967.

As a result, the Shadows would have “Foot Tapper” featured in a Peter Yates movie, Summer Holiday, as the group learned the producer needed music for a bus scene. Designed to get the feet tapping, “Foot Tapper” was a rather playful number that became a popular theme for the Sounds of the 60s, a popular UK-based radio program that ran from 1983 until 2017.

#7 – Theme from ‘The Deer Hunter’ (Cavatina)

“Cavatina” was a 1970 classical guitar number composed by Stanley Meyers that was featured on The Walking Stick soundtrack. However, it wasn’t until the 1978 performance by a guitarist named John Williams did this song became popular as it was used as the theme song for The Deer Hunter. Also covering this with incredible popularity was the Shadows.

Recorded for the group’s twelfth studio album, String of Hits, the Shadows covered this song as “Theme from ‘The Deer Hunter (Cavatina).” Cavatina is Italian for simple, melodious air. The Shadows’ version became a number nine hit on the UK Singles Chart, as well as a number one hit in Belgium and the Netherlands. It also became certified silver by the BPI, as well as gold by the Dutch’s NVPI.

#6 – Let Me Be the One

“Let Me Be the One” was a song written by Paul Curtis and performed by the Shadows as the United Kingdom’s entry into the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest. It came in second place, beating out eighteen other participants but losing to the Dutch’s entry of “Ding-a-Dong” by Teach-In. On the music charts, it peaked as high as number twelve in the UK, at number ten in Ireland, and at number two in Norway. In Germany, it charted as high as number forty-seven. By popular vote in the UK, “Let Me Be the One” was the favorite out of the six songs performed by the Shadows before going to Stockholm, Sweden to compete against the entries submitted by the other European nations.

#5 – Guitar Tango

Released in 1962 as a non-album single, “Guitar Tango” became a number four hit on the UK Singles Chart for the Shadows, as well as earning enough sales to become certified silver by the BPI. Across the Asian and European nations, it was at least a top-ten hit. In India, “Guitar Tango” became a number-one hit. Originally, “Guitar Tango” was “Guitare-Tango,” a song that was recorded in French by Maya Casabianca, Dario Moreno, and Tino Rossi.

However, it was made famous after the Shadows performed an instrumental version and turned it into a global favorite. When it came to expert handling of the guitar, Jet Harris, Hank Marvin, and Bruch Welch were at their prime. Each man treated his guitar as if it was a dance partner while Brian Bennett’s drum performance added even more drama to such a great tune.

#4 – Wonderful Land

“Wonderful Land” was an instrumental single the Shadows released in 1962 that became a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart for eight weeks. Written by Jerry Lordan, this wasn’t the song he wrote that had the Shadows perform it well enough to become a number-one hit. This was previously achieved with the 1960 hit, “Apache.” Originally, the Shadows had “Wonderful Land” recorded in 1961 but felt it wasn’t good enough just yet to be titled and released.

While Hank Marvin came up with the song’s title, the process of coming up with the perfect sound for “Wonderful Land” continued. That changed when Norrie Paramor added French horns and strings to it, even though Lordan at the time felt it wasn’t an ideal match for a song he felt could have sounded better. Nevertheless, it became a favorite on the music charts in the UK, across Europe, and among the nations of Australia and New Zealand.

#3 – Kon-Tiki

Recorded and released as a non-album instrumental single in 1961, “Kon-Tiki” became the fifth hit for the Shadows to become a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart. The lineup responsible for this song’s performance was Hank Marvin as electric lead guitarist, Bruch Welch playing acoustic rhythm guitar, Jet Harris as electric bass guitarist, and Tony Meehan on drums. In Australia, France, New Zealand, and Norway, “Kon-Tiki” was at least a top ten hit. The inspiration behind this song came about after learning about the 1947 South Sea exploration by Thor Hayerdahl. The guitar instrumental performed by the Shadows was the highlight that turned this song into one of the group’s finest gems.

#2 – Move It

“Move It” was a song written by Ian Samwell and it served as the debut single for the Shadows. Technically, it was credited to Cliff Richard and the Shadows when it was released in 1958 since Richard was at the front as the group’s lead singer. Before the Shadows made its mark as instrumental rock musicians, it started out as a backing band while Richard was part of the lineup as its frontman.

At the time “Move It” was suggested by the band’s manager at the time to bring in musicians that would perform better Ian Samwell and Terry Smart. However, Norrie Paramor was convinced to keep the two onboard while bassist Frank Clark and guitarist Ernie Shear were brought in to add to the song’s sound quality. This successful formula was enough to put Cliff Richards and the Shadows on the musical map that would pave the way for these men to become one of the brightest stars the music industry had to offer at the time.

#1 – Apache

Written by Jerry Lordan, “Apache” was a non-album single song that was first recorded by Bert Weedon in early 1960, not long before the Shadows had its own version recorded and released that same year. Lordan played his song on the ukulele before the Shadows while on tour. The lineup of Jet Harris, Hank Marvin, Tony Meehan, Cliff Richard, and Bruce Welch turned their version of “Apache” into a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart. It also became certified gold by the BPI.

The echo-vibrato sound heard in the song came from Marvin’s guitar as this was one of the highlights of a tune that became such a big favorite. Inspired by the Shadows’ version of this song, Jorgen Ingmann also had it recorded before 1960 was over and had it released in the United States. It became a number two hit on its US Billboard Hot 100. The influence of “Apache” witnessed a 1973 version by the Incredible Bongo Band that unofficially became an anthem for dance music fans.

The inspiration behind “Apache” came to Lordan after he watched the 1954 western film sharing the same title. What the songwriter strove for was something he felt was dramatic enough to display a mi of courage, nobility, and savagery in the form of a tune to pay homage to the movie’s star character, Massai. Played by Burt Lancaster, he was an Idnaian Apache warrior who was the show’s main protagonist. Heard at the beginning and the end of the song was Cliff Richard’s performance on a Chinese drum in an effort to mimic the sound of Native American cultural music.

In addition to becoming a number-one hit in the UK, “Apache” also topped the charts in Ireland and New Zealand. Across the European nations of Belgium, France, Germany, and Spain, it was at least a top-ten hit. It also peaked as high as number four in Australia. Over the stretch of time, the influence of the Shadows’ version of “Apache” inspired several recording artists to either perform their own version or sample the music as part of the songs they penned as songwriters.

Top 10 Songs By The Shadows article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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